Reflection for Divine Mercy Sunday
Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
One interesting discovery in our ecosystem is that each organism can only survive at certain places and under certain conditions. For example, a lion cannot live in water as powerful as it is. Furthermore, the largest creature on earth, the blue whale, can only survive in deep ocean waters. Recall that humans have the natural disposition to survive on the land.
Some people from various belief systems, including scientism and atheism, argue that divine mercy is unnecessary because they do not understand it. This could be the same way a child may not know that she needs air to survive due to age and exposure.
What is Divine Mercy?
The common understanding of mercy sees it as granting compassion or forgiveness instead of harm or punishment. Divine mercy is not all about the 3 pm prayer or the celebration on the Sunday after Easter Sunday graciously inaugurated by Pope John Paul II on April 30, 2000.
Divine Mercy is as old as God Himself because mercy is one of the major attributes of God. Deuteronomy (4:31) says God is a merciful God. Lamentations (3:23) says that His mercy never ends, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, says that God’s mercy reaches from generation to generation (Luke 1:50). In the first book of his pontificate, Pope Francis concluded that “The Name of God is Mercy!”
Divine mercy is the expression of God’s benevolent love over all his creatures. This definition says that we are created in the foreground of divine mercy. Put another way, life is impossible without divine mercy, and it indicates God’s love. Wherever you see divine mercy, there is divine love ferried by divine grace.
The New Dispensation of Divine Mercy
Divine mercy existed before the Fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). The Fall was man’s rejection or disdain of divine mercy. God regenerated His mercy by sending His only begotten Son for our redemption. So, the birth of Jesus Christ, his suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and the sending of the Holy Spirit form the new dispensation of divine mercy.
The highest point of this new dispensation of Divine Mercy was the death of Christ on the cross when he said, “it is finished!” (John 19:30). The new dispensation of divine mercy is beyond the forgiveness of sins; it includes the atonement by the blood of Jesus Christ. If forgiveness was enough, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34) could have been sufficient.
Ask for Mercy, and You shall Receive
One of the important benefits of being alive is that it offers us the opportunity to ask and obtain favors from God. No wonder Isaiah says, “Seek the Lord when He can be found, call him while He is still near” (Isaiah 55:6). The time the Lord can be found is now that you still have life in you.
Divine mercy is a facility open to everyone. To clear the mess in our lives, we need divine mercy. David (in Psalm 51:1) understood this well, and when he sinned, he begged: “Have mercy on me O God according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgression.”
The blind Bartimaeus sitting by the roadside in Jericho and hearing that Jesus was passing, understood the technology of divine mercy. So he shouted out loud even in defiance to the crowd: “Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47).
Moving Forward: Becoming A Dispenser of Divine Mercy
Divine mercy is a powerful gift from God; if you have received it, you should dispense it. Our Lord Jesus Christ remains a perfect dispenser of divine mercy. He preached it, “be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). He also gave it through his life and ministry.
The Gospel of this Sunday (John 20:19-31) tells us that Jesus showed up to the disciples while they were locked up in a room for fear of the Jews eight days after his resurrection. Addressing them, he said, “Peace be with you!” Why? The passage says they were afraid of the Jews, but the Jews were not yet after them.
The real deal is that they needed the mercy of God to clear away their past missteps, which included abandoning the Lord at a critical time (Mark 14:50). So, Jesus showed up to dispense divine mercy to them.
Our world is becoming increasingly messy because of the lack of mercy. Looking at our families, communities, and nations of the world, we notice how we are growing apart instead of growing together.
Everyone would need to take up the project of becoming intentional about dispensing divine mercy. The truth is that everyone has a part to play in this mercy project. We start by being merciful to ourselves then we can confidently reach out to each other. However, we need to understand that mercy cannot exist outside the ambiance of love. We need love to be merciful.
May, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7) . God bless you, and have a rewarding Divine Mercy Sunday.